Thief: Deadly Shadows was published by Eidos Interactive and developed by Ion
Storm. It was released for both the PC and X-Box on May 25th, 2004. This gameplay
analysis will be of the PC version. The game genre is primarily action, but elements from
other genres are borrowed. For example, as with adventure games, the story plays a major
role and fighting is not always the best solution to a problem. As with the previous Thief
games, sneaking and using non-deadly items against enemies usually works out to be the
best solution. Thief: Deadly Shadows is the third game in the Thief series. The first game,
Thief: The Dark Project was released in 1998, followed by the sequel, Thief II: The
Metal Age in 2000. There was also a special edition of the first game, which included
three extra levels. According to Warren Spector, the Thief games are considered to be
“first person sneakers” instead of first person shooters. From now on, Thief: Deadly
Shadows will be referred to as Thief, or Deadly Shadows.
Guards can be knocked out and carried and dropped
somewhere out of sight from other guards. This is one
of the game’s many stealth techniques.
A relatively large team developed Thief. The following chart shows how many people
worked on each role of the development of the game, sorted by group size.
Game Development Role Number
Quality Assurance Team 13
Test Team 13
Support Staff 8
Technology Group 7
Additional Art 5
Additional Production 4
Additional Programming 3
Additional Design 3
Additional Audio 2
Quality Assurance Leads 2
Additional QA 2
Studio Director, Project Director, Executive Producer, Associate Producer, 1 member
Director of Technology, Additional Technical Management, Lead Designer, for each
Art Director, Concept Art, Writing, Additional Writing, Audio Director, role
Quality Assurance Manager, Quality Assurance Supervisor, Build Master
Here is a pie graph of the above information, broken into general development categories.
Each number represents the total number of members for each role.
Team Roles Quality
The breakup of group members seems to be sufficient and typical, with enough, but not
too many, members working on each aspect of the game.
Thief takes place in what most closely resembles the Middle Ages in Europe.
There are many fantasy elements including monsters, ghosts, and magic. The backdrop
for the game is called The City, which is a central “hubb” level that connects each
mission together. You play as Garrett, a well-know master thief. This game once again
involves the Keepers, Hammerites, and Pages, which should be familiar names to players
of the previous Thief games. The Keepers are a group of scholars that raised Garrett and
taught him how to become a thief. The Hammerites are a group of religious people who
were the main villains in the first game. The Pagans are a group of strange, magical
people. The main plot line involves Garrett saving The City from an alleged unknown
disaster in the near future, called The Dark Age. The Keepers discover that Garrett plays
a role in their book of prophecies. The game’s story is carried out through briefings at the
beginning of each mission, cut scenes, books to read, and overheard conversations from
Water arrows can be used to put out torches, lights,
and candles, making the environment darker and
easier to hide in.
Some of the rules of the game involve Garrett being slow and weak. This restricts
the player from easily blasting through the level and constantly fighting. Other rules
involve being seen or heard. The player can be seen easily if they are caught standing in a
pool of light with a fire arrow ready to be shot, as apposed to hiding in dark shadows. The
player can be heard easily if they are running and jumping around on tiled floor, as
apposed to crawling on moss ground. Other rules that involve stealth include the water
arrows being used to put out torches and lights (to make the environment darker). The
water arrows can’t be used to hurt enemies. Zombies can only be killed with holy water.
Stone statues can only be killed with a special spell, acquired late in the game. The player
can be hostile, neutral, or allied with the Hammerties and Pagans. The player can be
allied with either group, but not both. If the player is hostile with a group, they will attack
the player if they see him anywhere, and if they are neutral, they will only attack if the
player has entered their territory. If the player is allied with the group, they will not be
attacked, unless the player starts to attack them. Players can improve or reduce their
faction status with the groups by doing certain actions. For example, the faction status
with the Hammerites will be increased if the player kills an undead, but decreased if the
player steals from the faction’s territory. To achieve the victory condition, the player
must successfully complete all of the missions.
Much of the graphics in the game are very blue.
More variation in color would have been nice.
The objectives and goals of the game usually involve sneaking around without
getting caught and stealing items, including loot. The loot can be sold at stores, and all of
the game’s items can be bought at the stores. Guards, the city watch, and monsters are
some of the enemies lurking around in the game. If the player enters a territory where
they are not supposed to be in (which makes up most of the game) and gets caught, the
goals change to escaping and not getting killed. The goals of the player are different for
each mission, and are displayed when the mission is started, and whenever the player
decides to bring up the Objectives list. The mission objectives vary, but most of them
involve entering a certain area and stealing certain artifacts. Objectives can change during
the mission when unexpected circumstances occur. Objectives can be slightly altered or
completely cancelled in the course of a mission, and new objectives can also be created
during a mission.
The main conflicts and challenges in Thief are to move around and steal while
staying undetected, and are related to the rules, goals, and objectives. The player can
interact with the game world in many ways. The following is a list of the game
mechanics with a brief explanation of each.
Movement Run Useful for making quick getaways when caught.
Walk Useful for moving with minimal noise.
Creep An even sneakier technique than walking.
Strafe To move left or right without turning.
Lean Corners of walls can be leaned around and doors
can be leaned into to hear what is on the other
Jump Jumping is noisy but also a very useful
navigation technique. Garrett can mantle himself
up to a ledge after jumping.
Climbing Gloves Garrett can climb stone walls once he buys the
Crouch Crouching allows Garrett to crawl and be very
quiet, as well as fit into tight places.
Wall Flattening Garret can flatten his body against a wall,
making it harder for him to become detected.
Weapons Blackjack The blackjack is used when sneaking up behind
an enemy and knocking them out. It is a very
stealthy weapon because it is quiet. It does not
kill the enemy with one hit.
Dagger The dagger should be used as face-to-face
combat and as a last resort.
Arrows Broadhead A generic arrow that can be used to kill enemies.
Fire A powerful arrow that explodes that is very loud
Noisemaker A loud arrow used as a distraction to lure
enemies away from Garrett.
Gas An arrow that makes enemies pass out.
Water A water arrow can be used to put out torches and
lights, as well as clean up blood stains (which
can alert other enemies that there is a thief
Moss Moss arrows can be used to make hard surfaces
soft, thus making them less noisy to walk across.
Items Explosive Mine These mines can be used to set traps. When an
enemy walks over one, it will explode.
Flash Bomb These can be used to temporarily blind
opponents, so they player can make a quick
Gas Bomb This creates a cloud of poisonous gas.
Health Potion This increases Garrett’s health.
Holy Water Flask This is used to kill undead enemies.
Oil Flask Oil flasks can be thrown on the ground to create
a puddle where enemies will slip and fall.
Lockpicks Very useful tools that can open almost any door
or locked chest.
Keeper Door Glyphs The glyphs are on walls and can be used to open
Mechanical Eye Garrett has a mechanical eye and can zoom in
and out on far away objects.
The game’s atmosphere and mood does evoke some emotions. The game let’s the
player feel as if they were a thief in the middle ages, but not just any thief. Garrett has a
prophecy to fulfill and therefore holds the fate of The City in his hands. The ambient
music sets the mood for some of the places in the game very well, but I feel that the game
could use more music. I also didn’t care what happened to the main characters. While I
think Garrett is the perfect role for the protagonist of the game with his independent
demeanor and cool attitude, he is rather emotionless. One of the best emotions of the
game is fear of getting caught. This is especially emotional if there are monsters close by.
My favorite enemies in terms of emotions were the stone statues and haunts. The statues
are huge and have a “stone” sounding voice and the haunts are like undead skeletons that
make ghostly noises and noises of rattling chains. One of the most emotional levels in the
game takes place in a haunted, abandoned insane asylum. It takes a long time for the
enemies to appear in this level, and this makes it even more suspenseful since they can be
heard throughout the level. Garrett meets a ghost in this level, a little girl, and unlike all
of the other characters, some players may feel sorry for her. In conclusion, the
environments create great emotions, while most of the characters create very little
One of the missions takes place inside of a museum.
The attention to detail, architecture, and amount of loot
to steal is breathtaking in this mission.
Most of the game is very fun to play. If I were to give the game a grade on a scale
of 1 to 100, I would give it about a 90, a very high grade for my strict gameplay
standards. It’s nice to play an action game where you don’t have to blast through the level
running and shooting. I like sneaking around in and exploring the huge environments,
trying to move undetected, stealing items, and occasionally fleeing or fighting. I liked the
game just about as much as the first game in the series. The second game in the series
was a good game, but it only had human guards and robots (no monsters), and therefore
lacked variety. It was nice to see the inclusion of not only monsters from the first game,
but new monsters as well.
The game includes a helpful tutorial for players that are
new to the series.
For the most part, the game offered more of the same in gameplay terms when
compared to the first two games, and this is a good thing. The light gem, which shows
how visible Garrett is, has returned for a third time as well. Deadly Shadows uses a better
graphics engine as well. It is also nice that the view can be changed from 1st to 3rd person
at anytime, simply by pressing a key. The game looks good it both views. There were
also some new gameplay enhancements. While some may not like it, I really liked how
you had to interactively pick locks in this one. For the first two games, you would simply
use the lock picks on doors until they opened. For this game you need to move each lock
pick around in the lock using the mouse, and I like this a lot better because it is more
interactive. I like how the missions were connected with a central “hubb” level as well
(The City); instead of being a bunch of unconnected missions as with the previous two
games. I also liked the variety of mission environments (a castle, a church, a clock tower,
catacombs, an insane asylum, a prison, a haunted ghost ship, a mansion, etc.). Thief is fun
throughout the whole game. I didn’t think any of the missions dragged.
Thief: Deadly Shadows is a great game that I definitely recommend to fans of the
Thief series, Splinter Cell series, or anyone who likes action games. However, there is
room for the game to be improved. More levels with the zombies and haunts would have
been nice. To get into the optional prison mission, Garrett must drown in water. I think
that this is strange that this is the only way to get into this mission. Garrett starts this
mission locked in a jail cell and must escape the cell, get his items back, and then escape
from the prison. This enjoyable mission also contains some very funny dialog. It would
have been nice if this mission was a required part of the game, and not optional. I also
was disappointed with the lack of new arrows and items in the game. The only new
inventory items are the climbing gloves and oil flasks. Some of the items from the
previous games have even been removed, such as the rope arrows, slow fall and speed
potions, scouting orbs, and frogbeast eggs. The climbing gloves are kind of like a
replacement for the rope arrows, but they are hardly ever needed. I also don’t like how
the sword was replaced with a short dagger. Swords fall to the ground as guards are
knocked out or killed, but they can’t be picked up.
If this many guards catch you at once, you’ll probably
die unless you run away successfully.
More variation in the human guards would have been nice. While they have many
different skins, not too many different voices actors were used for the guards. The
amount of dialogue is sufficient and well acted, but more voices would have been nice.
Also, each guard is basically the same, whether they are male or female, or using a sword
or hammer as a weapon. Some of the Pagans use magic fireballs however, and this is an
exception. The artificial intelligence of all of the non-player characters is also very
unintelligent, at least on the easy difficulty setting. They have trouble detecting Garrett,
and when they do detect him, they having trouble finding him, and when they find him,
they lose the player very easily if the player runs. If they can’t find Garrett, they give up
quickly. Also, I noticed that if you blackjack an opponent, they will make a noise and
then fall to the ground, but the other opponent standing right in front of the knocked out
opponent won’t hear anything. More music would have been a nice touch as well.
The shadow and lighting effects in the game look
Loading times, which occur within a mission (unlike the previous games, where
the whole mission would load), spilt up the environment, and create a suspension of
disbelief. This becomes a pain when you need to travel from one end of The City to the
other. Some of the missions don’t seem quite as large as the ones in the previous games,
but the game as a whole is long. I think the last part of the game lacked a good closure –
it would have been a nice challenge to have to fight the demon. The graphics are very
nice, and the lighting is great, but I think the game used too much blue. The previous
games had inferior graphics and lighting, but made a better use of the color palette. The
game also lacked an autosave feature.
I also missed the comic book style cut scenes for the mission briefings. In Deadly
Shadows, the mission briefings consist of text being read by Garrett. There are still cut
scenes within the missions, but I think getting rid of the comic book style briefings was a
step in the wrong direction. There is also a graphical glitch involving the characters.
When they are killed or knocked out, they sometimes fall into strange unnatural positions
(such as arching like a bridge).
All of these critiques are minor however. Thief: Deadly Shadows is a great game,
and a worthy sequel to the innovative and original series.
The screenshots were taken from Gamespot.com.